Thursday, January 31, 2008

Which's London Coffee Shop Review


Our undercover expert sampled coffee in each of the big three.

A Starbucks sign

Our expert was not impressed with Starbucks's americano

To test the quality and taste, we sent Whittard coffee buyer and taster Giles Hilton to a Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffé Nero in central London.

Giles ordered two popular coffees – an americano and a cappuccino – in each shop. He rated them for appearance and temperature, taste and overall satisfaction.


According to Giles, a good americano should contain a single shot of espresso topped up with a third to a half cup of hot water. But he felt that the americanos he ordered contained too much water.

Starbucks was the worst offender. Giles thought that the cup had too much water, which resulted in a ‘faint coffee taste’. Costa’s was also a little oversized and ‘weak’. Giles liked Caffé Nero’s americano the best, although still a ‘bit watery’, it was ‘on the right track’.


The ideal cappuccino should be a third coffee, a third milk and a third froth.

Giles thought that both Costa and Caffé Nero served a good cappuccino. Starbucks’s offering was only satisfactory and, while it tasted ‘nice’, was spoilt by being ‘too long’ and having too much froth.

Giles liked Costa’s cappuccino, saying that it was ‘correctly presented and well balanced’. However, Caffé Nero’s cappuccino was his favourite. According to Giles, it was ‘the most professional of the three’.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cupping Kenya Kirinyaga

Originally uploaded by PeaberryPicker
This nice photo from Milkboy (thanks) brings me with today's activities. After 1 hour of blending, grinding and delivering our freshest beans i was pulling shot after shot, and pouring cappa after latte at our Oever bar.
Then meeting with a friend for his new to start espresso bar in the centre of town!
And Laurent from Efico to see what beans we may expect in the harbour of Antwerp the next couple of months. Exciting.
And now time for cupping ; yes it slowed down at the bar and no better way to end the day with a couple of prime cups. :-)

And what a coffee to cup!!!!!
Jeff took along a bag of Terroir Kenya Kirinyaga from the Mamuto farm.
This 5000 ft altitude coffee was the first ever to score a +95 at their cupping table. Of course ours was a not that fresh, but we can understand.
It was very powerfull, certainly for a Kenyan. Very full flavor and a fruityness that's almost not comparable. Black cherry, Black currant and Black berry ; a lot!

More info from the Terroir site :

Farmer: Walter Paul and Muthoni Mathagu

Region: Kirinyaga
Altitude: 5,000 ft.
Rainfall: Low to moderate+
Soil: Volcanic loam
Arabica variety: 95% Bourbon Sl 28 and SL 34, 5% Ruiru 11
Size of Farm: 21 acres total; 13 acres of coffee
Roast: Full Flavor

Please Note:
Terroir will return an additional $2 directly to the farmer, Walter Paul Mathagu, for every bag of Mamuto sold at $20.95.

Please click here to view more images of this coffee farm.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Brazil Inglaterra Special Fazenda Toca da Onca

Where else then at Hasbean we can pick up great American Coffee Beans?
There's a great story behind this coffee with the most incredible name ever, but more important it tastes great.

Before getting into cupping details, i have to tell you how difficult it feels for me to transpond the cupping notes into the espresso story. Most of these fruity and complex beans do really well on press, filter, chemex, eva solo and for the professionals on Clover, but the espresso story always seems to be a totally different one. And it's the acidity that's troubling me. Where we find perfect balance in the cupping, the acidity takes over and ruins it in our espresso. Of course no machine or Barista is perfect and probably someone, somewhere is able to get more out of it, but we are so often disappointed with the lack of balance...
What we tasted on espresso was nice mouthfeel (why Stephen thinks it's FANTASTIC?), raisins, a bit of caramel and lots of roasted nuts, but too much of their skin taste. Like the skin of Walnuts that's overpowering and ruin the sweet oily deep taste of what's laying underneath.

At the cupping table we had an incredible cup of coffee, with great balance and a palate comparable with the Colombia Esperanza.

To finish i would strongly recommend this coffee to all of you, but i guess it's overpriced for espresso, unless you're fond of the more acidic ones.
More info on the Hasbean website.

We offer as our espresso of the week the Ethiopian Djimmah. This bean is known for their wild and strong taste and that's what it gives. Very closeby Robusta is this one. We often notice the Djimmah is not very stable one bag or crop compared to another, but we found a good one. We had better before though and keep on searching that perfect Djimmah, meanwhile enjoying this one, a bit comparable with the better Sumatra's.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Vandoag is't

There's a new place in town.
And the name is the title above. Yes not really under standable for someone outside of town.

Forget about it and let's focus on what they do.

Gilles is the owner and a devoted Caffenation fan. We met 7 years ago when he helped me to find people to interim for the fitness industry. And now i'm helping him to run this new espresso bar.

It's at the corner of the prince and princess street, nearby the UFSIA university and therefor packed with students. Yes packed it is, when school's out. School's out for Gilles and a first class Latte star, Half and Half, Cappuccino, straight Espresso shot or one of the other drinks on the menu.

His set up tells you a lot about the way of thinking.
Faema Smart two group. Faema grinder, two Macap's, a 58 flat Reg Barber and a clock to check the extraction times, 26 seconds split is the goal, and he's doing it! Nice materials and attitude to start up with.

Besides of all this coffee craze you can enjoy freshly melted chocolate drinks, fresh tea's or a slice of home made pie.
Check it out!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Core 77 Siphon Brewing Article

Siphoning the perfect cup of coffee
Posted by: Jeannie Choe on Wednesday, January 23 2008


Siphoning works for stealing gasoline and moving cash into secret bank accounts, but it's apparently the way to go if you're searching for that perfect cup of coffee. The Blue Bottle Cafe in San Francisco has recently acquired a $20,000 imported Japanese siphon bar (above) after years of attempts. This halogen-powered coffee contraption is currently the only one of its kind in the U.S. The high-tech, $11,000 Clover siphon brewer makes only one cup at a time but depends way less on the barista than the aforementioned siphon bar, resulting in a consistently tailored cup every time. There are about 200 Clovers around the world but Starbucks just bought 2, so if you're a fanatic now, prepare to feel less special.

Designed by three Stanford graduates, it lets the user program every feature of the brewing process, including temperature, water dose and extraction time. (It even has an Ethernet connection that can feed a complete record of its configurations to a Web database.) Not only is each cup brewed to order, but the way each cup is brewed can be tailored to a particular bean -- light or dark roast, acidic or sweet, and so on.

image : Peter DaSilva for NYT

Thanks Pieter for the link.

If anyone else finds something interesting online ; drop me a line.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bodum Columbia Press

This is my Bodum Columbia Double wall coffee maker, stainless steel 0,35l/12oz.
State of the art French Press Pot. This was a left over from my Bodum stock. Of course it was not my first Press, but it is definitely my best.
Nice design, good press, fantastic thermal conditions and easy to clean.

The Daterra tasted very full although I don't think this bean is the perfect one for the press, cause it's missing a bit of acidity and fruitiness, certainly on the roast we need for the espresso machine.
I made two pots. One Saturday eve, the same day with fresh ground. And today, four days later, with the same ground, and yes again the difference in taste between both was remarkable. Less detail and much more bitterness today.
So please people, any system you use, get yourself a grinder and drink it all ways with freshly ground.
An advantage with the French Press is you can easily use a hand mill since you need a coarse grind. And a hand mill is very reasonable prized and easy to store. I guess Zassenhaus is a brand to recommend. Or Bodum, again.
Good luck.

Sexy Beans, i'm running out of inspiration

Monday, January 21, 2008


You might think you're a caffeine fiend, but you aren't really until you have to take a portable espresso maker with you everywhere you go. Handpresso looks and works like a bicycle pump - you pump air to a pressure of 16 bar, fill the reservoir with hot water, drop in an espresso pod, and the Handpresso renders a steaming hot cup of espresso. There's no word on how well it works, nor how the coffee tastes, but we're pretty sure that it beats instant espresso powder mixed with hot water!

Rob : €99 seems to be a good price for such a nice design.
Anyone tested this maker?

Watch the very funny - old fashioned - Handpresso commercials on You Tube.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nicaragua Coffee Video

Very informative.
Unfortunately only to order in the US.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Caffenation Latte Art Photo's

The first one is in good balance and has these nice dark leaves.
An extra espressoshot would have been giving it more contrast though.

Etching fun.
Nice foam and colours on this Mocha.

The last one is very special. Tuned up with Cinnamon and an incredible monks head finish.

What a photo!

click it

I know this looks weird, but i'm not allowed to copy it, so you'll have to click the link.
You won't regret doing so for this fantastic black and white (and grey) Cafe Barista photo from Y.J. Chang.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Daterra for Post 200

Daterra is a coffee grower best known for its innovative research, its respect for the environment and its high quality coffee.

Plantations are located in the Cerrado region (State of Minas Gerais) and in the Mogiana region (State of São Paulo). The high altitude, stable temperature, and defined rainy season create perfect conditions for sustainable Arabica coffee farming.

Daterra's uniqueness lies not only in its environmental philosophy: protection of wildlife, water resources, and native forests, but also in its social responsibility, promoting labor rights.

Daterra's Program for Environment and Wild Animals Preservation is certified by four international organizations, crowning the efforts of an 18-year project to establish Daterra as a fully sustainable coffee producer.

This info comes from their website and interesting to know.

I spotted last week an article in which they talked about the best coffee country's in the world. And they mentioned the Brazilian beans were just medium.
I'm willing to believe that the average Santos, Cerrado or Conillon is not top notch, but what we see the last couple of years is that there is not one other country in the world with so many top class espresso beans as the Amazon Country.
And in this league the Daterra is a top player.
In the cupping of our medium roasted (the best for espresso) Daterra we find a gentle and mild mouthfeel, light acidity, fantastic sweetness with a bit of spices (cloves, pepper) and chocolate and a super clean finish. The only downfall seems to be a lack of acidity, probably more prominent on a lighter roast, but that's not our business.

I'm very enchanted to have this unique bean for the first time in Belgium on sale at €18 a kilo. Yes, that's cheap, but my goal is to bring coffee to the people, and affordable prices is an important part of that. And i don't doubt a second we will get rid of our 60K fast with all those super enthusiastic people hanging at our bars.

That's it for post 200. Thanks for reading and remember ... happiness is a warm puck.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Always liked Heinz.
Not with coffee though. Except in this video.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Info from the Clifton Site

The Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance was founded in 1987 to promote understanding about and support the protection of the Earth's declining ecosystems. It works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods in rainforest nations, through transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour.

One of its recent initiatives is a certification on coffee – second only to oil as a global trading commodity. The Rainforest Alliance stamp on coffee guarantees that it is sourced from farms where forests are protected, soils and wildlife are conserved, and workers receive proper wages and access to education and medical care.

From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, the Rainforest Alliance involves businesses and consumers worldwide in an effort to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace that is showing an increasing demand for sustainability.

Speciality Coffee

The Speciality Coffee Association of Europe was established in 1998 with the aim of developing a forum for the exchange of information, promotion and education among participants of the coffee industry.

Its members encompass retailers, brokers, roasters, bars and restaurants, importers and exporters – all of whom share a commitment to the quality of their products. It encourages a network of communication and spirit of cooperation among all members of the coffee community, from producers to consumers.

It works with organisations in matters relating to regulations affecting speciality coffee and supports sound business practice and consciousness of environmental and social issues.

Shade-Grown Coffee

Shade-grown coffee is an ancient yet sustainable coffee-growing technique. In many countries forests are situated in the traditional coffee plantations, and widespread deforestation has resulted in the destruction of natural habitat for millions of birds.

Shade coffee is grown under a canopy of trees of many different species, providing food and shelter for the birds, and a home for many other species of animals and plants. In addition to the benefits of preserving biodiversity and sustaining the forests, shade-grown coffee beans mature more slowly, which gives them a richer flavour; they also require less use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, making them better for you.

The fact is, coffee doesn’t have to be grown in the sun to taste great.

Thank you James for letting me copying this info on to my blog. I think it's well explained and very informative.
For more info on Clifton : click this.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Shot Glasses

I've seen them all over the internet and real world and finally we have them in Antwerp.
Yes Henk from ESW his last visit was very effective.
Nice and heavy and perfect crema development, although you don't see this very well on the photo.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Crazy Combo

What is the most expensive drink at Starbucks? A New York software engineer, Billy Chasen, decided to find out when he was given a voucher for a free drink of any variety. A venti white mocha is the priciest on the menu. He asked a barista at a Manhattan branch to squeeze as many extra shots and syrups into the cup as possible. The result? A 13-shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel. The cost was $13.76 (£6.97). His verdict? "It was very sweet and I'm still shaking a bit," he reported on his blog. "I didn't attempt to drink the entire thing, since I'd like to sleep tonight."

ps : by curiosity i decided to search out who this billy chasen guy is and i was struck by his artistic sense, or how do i describe this. check out his stuff yourself.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Project of Jaan and crew with a nice look on etching and tamping. (dutch)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2007 Top 10

Espresso of the week : top 10 for 2007

1) Puerto Rico (on full city roast). Unfortunately i do not have more info on the bean. I know they roast it again at AKC in the third week of Jan. My order is placed.
2) Honduras Lempira SHG
3) Peet's Major Dickason's Blend
4) Caffenation X-Mas Blend
5) Caffé Del Doge Sul De Minas
6) Tim Wendelboe
7) Barbera Classica
8) Australian duet (Skyburry - Mountain Top)
9) Costa Rica Tournon Estate
10) Sweet Maria Scuro Puro

Good music is very important for us. All Caffenation Barista's are music lovers and in this list you have an idea of what's coming out of the speakers at Hopland and Oever.
Top 10 new Cd's 2007

1) Lou Rawls : Live 66 at the Capitol Studio's L.A.
2) Nara : Me-10 (Elenco 1963)
3) Blue Juice : Blue Note Compilation
4) The Definite Art Tatum : Blue Note Compilation
5) Various Artists : Broken Flowers Movie Soundtrack (Decca)
6) Walter Wanderley : Beste of Verve 66-67
7) Horace Silver : The Tokyo Blues (Blue Note 1962)
8) James Brown : The Payback Movie Soundtrack (Polydor 1973)
9) You Can Count On Me : Brown Sugar Compilation (2003)
10) Bob Dylan : Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Saturday at Caffenation

Since a while i was willing to write about what's all happening at a busy day in an espresso bar.

Today i was smart enough to take notes of a Saturday, that's usual pretty busy, hectic and ... fun!

With me opening the joint, Dieter and Bird popping in as young, funky and strong Barista's ; that's the team for today. Let's go.

These days there is a lot of kissing to do. New Year's wishes. Mostly a firm hand shake for the male part and 3 kisses for the girls. As none of us was shaved the girls had a rough day. But they're used. I guess a majority of Caffenation men as not shaved on a daily basis. That's 2008 in Antwerp it looks like. And that's what i said to some girls. They didn't mind my 5 day old beard.

Julia is a fine young student, some days sitting at Caffenation for hours and hours. As she did today. Bird noticed she still had a price tag hanging out at the back of her new (sales) shirt. Time for me to bring out the scissors and give her a helping hand. I couldn't help her out with her need for internet. After years of (on and off) wifi, it's seems to be 'off' for ever.

Then Andrea, fashion professional from Switserland, is another favourite. Because she thought of Bird while she was over in her home country for Christmas with buying him a delicious bar of espresso flavored Suisse Chocolate, he gave her a bouquet of flowers. Love is in the air. :-)
Those Swiss girls, hanging together drinking cappa's and smoking cigarettes, are mostly very loud, making fun all the time, which brings in great atmosphere of course. We like that, even it sometimes sounds like goats and this brings us back in time when first coffee beans in Ethiopia were found by goats who started 'dancing' thanks to the caffeine in these mokka beans. Isn't coffee the best drug?

My auntie Josefine is over 80 years old, but still fit enough to travel over 60 km to enjoy a Chai Latte every 3 or 4 months. Today again she came in with this big smile, together with another positive grand mama. They definitely wanted to be in the smoking area, to combine chai, latte, honey, nutmeg and a smoke. Yeah the youth of today.

Tino is a fine young black fellow working next doors on Saturday. Mostly he just comes in for a Soy Cappuccino for the owner of World Express Yvette. Today he wanted to try one of our famous chocolate drinks. Bird yelled at him he was already 'dark' enough, so he took a white chocolate drink. Big laughter. And so it's going on and on.

Michou, with her curly black her and ongoing smile, is another favourite client. She's studying for mid wife, which is her passion ... besides of coffee drinking of course! Today was her 3rd time in succession she asks for a free chair at a table and the person sitting at that table stands up and offers not only the spare chair, but the full table as well. What's that all about? Nice, now we got another thing to tease her with.

At 3 i see 3 girls painted and dressed for 3 kings day coming in and i ask them if they want to sing us (and the other 40 people hanging around) a 3 kings song. They agree with a big smile and wave in 7 more people, all dressed up very spectacular and weaponed with a big ghetto blaster! They start dancing around as mad girls and sing us 3 very funny songs. Of course we turn of our Hifi and enjoying this as the highlight of the day. And they made good money. Deserved!

There is this very fancy, expensively dressed, lady (tourist) ordering two Latte's to go. And she asks for a bottle of water. I tell her i can't give this, but offers a glass of (free) water in stead. She finishes it in one draft and asks a refill. No problemo. Again she asks a refill and is finishing this one the same way. Refill? Ok, and the third glass (25cl) follows the same path. Is there still some space left for that Latte? Incredible!

And i think i don't even noted half of the happenings, but i want to finish with this excellent moment were Bird, he again, asks a guy where he was celebrating his new year's eve. He's totally surprised and tells him they met one another that night. In return Bird asks him where that was. Can you believe he forgot? Big laughs of course at both sides of the bar.
I tell you we make a lot of espresso's ... and fun at the bar. Being Barista is probably the best job in the world ... for us.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Strong coffee

... and spicy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Another Starbucks visit

Very long ago i've been visiting a Bux.
For us Belgians it's still something that links with holiday's/citytrips. As so it was this day.

While queuing i had their Christmas Blend in my hands. One month ago i ordered two very promising bags of Starbucks via the internet. Although i went trough all ordering and paypal procedures fluently i never received them. I have to admit i've never been billed either.
So, yes i was willing to take a bag along, until i saw the roasting date on the back of the bag. 24th of August! That's over 4 months old. No way José, i'm not going for stale. By the way : who's roasting their Christmas Blend in August!?
Other coffee bags in the store had no roasting dates on the package. The T-shirts of the staff had "Starbucks Coffee Roaster" printed on the chest. Marketing.

The queuing took almost ten minutes. The ordering was slow and insufficient. The working area was dirty as so was the whole café. Empty cups everywhere, paper, straws on the floor, coffee stains, etc...

The Espresso Macchiato (€1,70) was, as all the drinks, served in a paper cup and not a joy. In Cappuccino's and Macchiato's the marriage of espresso and milk should or could be something like 1+1=3, this drink was 0,5+0,5=0,5. The roast was soooo dark and burned. Way darker then what i remembered from the past. 'Charbucks' indeed. And where it should cut trough the milk well, it killed it. No bonding, no velvety, no lifting up, no nothing. A shame.

Isabel's Decaf Toffee Nut Latte (€3,60) was only worth a sip. Was this a coffee? Never tasted one with this low coffee taste. Nothing, zip. The only thing my taste buds sensed were sugar, a bit of artificial nut and the water they brewed the coffee with. Oh my!
No wonder people all day long compliment us for the quality we serve.

Ok, i'm all set for another two (no-bux) years.